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11 Unique Ways Dads Can Bond With Baby

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By Al Ferguson

Al Ferguson is the CEO and founder of The Dadsnet.

Published on 11/09/2015

Dads Bonding PT

Bonding with a baby can be a daunting thought. Many parents worry about whether they’ll be able to bond with their baby or not. For dads, we don’t have the experience of carrying the baby, breastfeeding the baby or giving birth to the baby to help with our bonding. We have to think a little more creatively. But once you’re a dad, bonding needs to be high on your priority list.

In hindsight, from having had Ted, I’m not sure what both the wife and I were worried about, but we were both anxious about the whole issue of bonding. I’m looking back over my time with Ted and concluding that I do have a great bond with him, so whatever I did, it worked. I’ve spent some time thinking about it and come up with 10 simple ways dads can bond with their baby.

1 Give birth yourself

Ok, of course I know the physical limitations are a fairly big hurdle, but what I mean is, fully involve yourself in the birth. Pack the bag, ask your questions, rub her back, cut the cord, hold the baby as soon as possible. You’re going through a journey too, and acknowledging and embracing this will help you bond from the word go!

2 Take your top off

Whenever possible, get your top off and have a cuddle with your baby. Skin to skin contact goes a long way to building a closeness with your baby.

3 Protect your bath time

Bath time bondingBath time is great bonding time for dad and baby. Is bath time dad’s time in your household?

Posted by JOHNSON’S baby on Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This is something all dads should do! I claimed bath time as ‘my’ time with Ted. 20 minutes or so that was just for me and him. I jump in with him and we’ve had that closeness together every evening from when he was born.

4 Go to all appointments

This may not be possible due to work commitments etc, but being part of as much as possible helps you feel connected to your baby. If you know what’s going on first hand you’ll feel closer. Also, when you’re there, make your presence known. There are so many cases of dads being ignored by midwives, health visitors and doctors and this is just wrong! Pull up a seat and be an active presence in the room.

5 Feed your baby

If you’re bottle feeding, you can of course be heavily involved with feeding but if your baby is breastfed it’s a little more tricky. It may be possible for mum to express some breast milk into a bottle so that dad can feed. I’d highly recommend this and it wins brownie points if you adopt the late feed as yours! If expressing isn’t possible, and it can be difficult, there are still a few ways you can be involved in breastfeeding: winding baby, supporting mum, sitting with mum & baby etc

6 Walk

Take the baby for a walk using a baby carrier as often as you can. Early mornings are great, early evenings are good too. The position of the baby, when in a baby carrier is close and intimate. A good time for bonding!

7 Be silly

Playing silly, daft games that involve eye contact, making sounds, talking and touching is a great way of bonding. Toys are essential for this and with the vast range of educational, interactive and creative toys not the market, you’ll definitely find something you can use. My advice is to really be silly and let yourself go. You’ll both have fun! The worst thing that can happen is that your wife films it and sticks it on Facebook…

8 Become a book worm

Reading to your baby is amazing. Not only are you cuddling but also interacting and giving your full attention to your baby; exactly what they want. It’s so important for the baby’s development too.

9 Be confident

The more confident you are the easier it is to bond. The more involved you are, the more confident you’ll be. That’s just the way it is and you can’t do it any other way. You will gain confidence by being involved and you will bond if you’re confident.

10 Have realistic expectations

Think about what you can feasibly do and what your limitations are. It could be work, it could be a lack of confidence or it could be an over-controlling mum. Whatever it is, set realistic expectations and then you won’t beat yourself up. Sometimes I’d find parenting easy and I’d feel really close to Ted and there were other periods where it seemed to be more tricky.

11 Work out together

What? Down the gym! No, but a baby is an excellent weight for bicep curls! Joke!

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  1. Tracey Abrahams (The Anxious Dragon)

    These are all great ways for a dad to bond with their baby, I especially like the being silly one #bigfstlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      I’m very good at that one ;)

  2. Luke Strickland

    We had both our kids at home, and it was amazing to be such a part of the birth each time, and cutting the cord. Good thoughts as usual Al! #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Wow! I’d love to do that but I know Jen is too nervous. Thanks buddy :)

    • Al Ferguson

      Thank you, so important :)

  3. Mummy Fever

    Great tips ! The top off thing we have done each time, so special #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Thank you and thanks for joining us :)

  4. Alexandra Hurton

    I love this. Dad’s are forgotten when it comes to bonding time. The majority of posts and articles i read are all bout mother and baby bond time. Dad’s need that strong bond too. My partner has always had bath time as his too and would alternate feeds with me (bottle feeding). It has worked well for us as the three of us are all very close. #BigFatLinky

    • Al Ferguson

      That’s great to hear that you found something that works so well for you :)

  5. JOhn Adams

    Number 9 s so important; be confident. Also, be prepared o make mistakes. You’re going to make them. Be confident enough to admit it and roll with the punches.

    As for point Number 4, since April 2015 men in the UK have had the legal right to time off work to attend ante-natal appointments. It’s taken a long time to get this right…so use it! Thanks for hosting #BigFatLinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Well said that man! Thanks for joining us.

    • Al Ferguson

      Hope he is in The Dad Network dads group?

  6. Mum in Brum

    Really great advice here! Bath time has always been Dad’s time in our house. The baby carrier is also a (welcome from me) dad job which both baby and Dad love. Dad is by far the favourite in our house – the smiles are all reserved for when he comes home! It’s also so important to be silly – Dad’s do this so well :) #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Couldn’t agree more. Hope he is in The Dad Network?

  7. Pete

    Feeding my baby has been huge for me so far in these early stages of fatherhood. Since wifey has been pumping her milk, it’s provide the unique bonding opportunity that most breastfed babies don’t get in these first few weeks. Glad I stopped by on the #BigFatLinky

  8. Random Musings

    Fantastic post. I often read posts about mums bonding or feeling like they aren’t bonding with their new babies. Great to read about it from a dad’s point of view as I think dads are often overlooked in the beginning. Good, practical advice. Thanks for hosting the #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Thank you. I agree with you. hopefully we will help to change that :)

  9. Silly Mummy

    Good advice and tips. I agree with what you said at start though – I think most people overthink and worry too much about this when they actually do it pretty naturally. #bigfatlinky

  10. Dawn of the Dad

    Such great advice for those new to the world of dad. Bonding with the little ones is so empowering, for both baby and dad!

    • Al Ferguson

      Yep! :) Thanks for your comment buddy

  11. Emma's Mamma

    This is a great list! My husband did pretty much all of these when Emma was born, except for the working out one lol #bigfatlinky

  12. James Hunt

    Great post. Simple, easy advice to follow.
    I always found bath time and feeding time to be so important.
    You can create a real close bond when you’re giving them a bottle!!

    • Al Ferguson

      Bath time is so important for us. Love it!

  13. Helen

    Having watched my husband and baby grow together and form this amazing bond is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. They spend all day together and from the early days I wasn’t concerned at all with going back to work and leaving ‘the boys’ at home. They have such a special relationship. They have ‘adventures’ each and everyday. The most wonderful part of being a parent is sharing it with one another

    • Al Ferguson

      That’s lovely! Good for him! :)

  14. Mrs Tubbs

    Great tips and it’s nice to see posts like this from the dad’s point of view. Rev T did all these things when the Tubblet was tiny. Have a lovely week and thanks for hosting

    • Al Ferguson

      Thank you and thanks for joining :)

  15. Helena Ashworth

    Reading your post reminds me of all the reasons that I’m thankful that I have the husband I have. #BigFatLinky

    • Al Ferguson

      I know my wife says the same. Lucky aren’t we? :)

  16. Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    Really great tips here. Especially the skin to skin & bath time. That’s really nice that it’s your & Ted’s special time together. Being confident is important too – a new baby is overwhelming for both parents, especially the first one :) #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      13 months in and I’m missed less baths than you could count on one hand :)

  17. Alison

    Some really lovely ideas here. You forgot nappy changing though — that’s a great opportunity to play games and get to know your baby, especially in the early days when he or she might find it a bit upsetting and might need soothing. #bigfatlinky

    • Al Ferguson

      Great addition, thank you :)

  18. Everything Mummy

    Great suggestions for how dads can bond with a baby I think the first one is crucial as some fathers will just think to let mum get on with it all but it is just as much of an experience for them so getting involved in the labour and pregnancy gets you off on the right foot! #bigfatlinky

  19. Michelle McNulty

    Gosh this list takes me back.. Such lovely ideas- making use of simplicity. Which lets face it, is best when it comes to parenting! Great post. #BigFatLinky

  20. Becky (@attwtwo)

    These are such lovely ideas. My husband always did the winding after I fed baby – it always felt like it was a team effort that way! He also loves bath time and enjoys helping with the bedtime routine now the children are older :) Thanks for co-hosting #bigfatlinky

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